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The Basement: Hidden Storage Room

by - Monday, February 04, 2013

This won't be the prettiest post ever, but it is chock full of information. I've already shown you the laundry room, the playhouse, the craft zone, and the office. Now I'll show you the hardest working part of the basement, the storage room.

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Basement Storage Room

If you remember, with the renovation we made our large laundry room into a smaller galley style laundry room surrounded by an L-shaped storage room. Here's the layout:

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We went through many options for this part of the basement but ultimately decided on this layout because:
- it would allow us to centralize all the utilities and keep them 'back of house'
- this zone was unfinished with an exposed ceiling and walls. Keeping this area as utility space meant we didn't have to finish it and incur additional costs for drywall, paint etc.

Basement Storage Ideas

I really think storage is one of the most overlooked areas of renovating. Often, people spend their time focused on the main rooms and the decorating and storage is an afterthought - that "storage" space will be wherever there is a gap or crevice or unused space. Then what happens? You end up with things stored in boxes and giant plastic bins all over the house - and can't find a thing. 

With a little bit of planning though, you can create storage that is highly efficient, contained, and attractive. Here's a few things we did to create the ultimate storage room:

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Optimal Dimensions

Here's the view of the room when you enter. The furnace was already on the right but we did rotate it 90 degrees. This one change allowed us to minimize the dimensions of the storage room (it is only 38" wide and just under 7' tall) and maximize the size of the laundry room. 

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Use Vertical Storage

To the left, you see this.  We decided to keep storage running on the outside perimeter of the room and "controls" on the inside perimeter where they could be accessible and visible. 

We put extra blocking in between the joists so that we could mount things like the sprinkler box and the fire extinguisher. If we were really smart, we would have recessed the TV that is in the laundry room into this room! It would have fallen just above the light switch.

We also added spray foam insulation along the exterior wall only. The wall to the right is a shared wall with our neighbour so it was unnecessary. You can't see it in this photo but we also added some batt sound insulation in between the ceiling joists to dampen noise from the laundry room from travelling upstairs to the living room.

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Basement Storage Shelving

We already had these Ikea IVAR shelving units and luckily they worked in the new room. The shallower 12" deep units were placed near the entry way and the deeper 19" units were fit into the corners where there is a recess in the wall.

Update: See how we used the same IVAR shelving units in our current home's basement storage.

Storage Shelving Tips:

In terms of how we store things, a few general rules we followed:
  • Items are stored in boxes as much as possible and boxes are labelled. This prevents small, odd shaped little things from floating all over the room
  • Like is kept with like. Paint cans and household tools are kept on one shelf. Kitchen and cooking equipment is kept on another. Dangerous items are stored on higher shelves, out of reach of Chloe. It makes for better organization and things are easier to find.
  • Standardize. I used to have my Christmas decorations in multiple boxes of varied sizes. Now they are tucked away in these four long bankers boxes (which just happen to fit perfectly on the shelving). Again, like is kept with like: ornaments in one box, figurines and mini trees in another.

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Use Overhead Space

Now here's an example where planning really benefits design. We knew we were going to move the hot water tank from its old location under the stairs into this storage room. 

We also wanted to put the large filing cabinet beside the tank. Again, the storage room dimensions were planned to accommodate this. We also told our contractor of our plans and had him place the dryer vent upwards and over the area, thereby maximizing our free space.

Plan For Aesthetics

You'll notice that we also brought the shut off valves for the washing machine into the storage room. Typically, you'll see these in the laundry room behind the machines or in a recessed box above the machines so that they're still accessible. By moving the supply lines into the storage room, we were able to have uninterrupted wall space and create our dramatic glass tile backsplash in the laundry room.

I know to some that this may seem a bit of overkill, a bit of overthinking the space. But in our small house, every inch counts. It feels good to get so much stuff tucked into a tiny space! And I kinda like that this room is hidden... you can hardly tell what's behind the door :)

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